Tom Taylor has been with DC Comics for quite some time now, and the man can spin a yarn that will weave in all directions. This issue of DCeased: Dead Planet is a perfect example of that, from the introduction of a character to this elseworld in dire need of heroes to the bitter ending where you don’t know where this universe will stand.
I was talking with a friend the other day about Tom Taylor, as he has been making quite a splash with stories about a new project, heroes punching out Nazis, and potentially taking a Golden Age team to another elseworld. I wonder if being free of the shackles of continuity is what makes Tom Taylor amazing at what he does? Don’t get me wrong, he has been doing great things with Suicide Squad as well — but that will be a discussion for another time. For now let us return to the Dead Planet!
SPOILERS AHEAD for DCeased: Dead Planet #2!
So that hero Tom introduced was Arsenal, Roy Harper, and he shines very brightly as he takes care of street-level people from the infected, but he does the one thing you never do in horror: give someone hope. To prove him wrong, we are treated to the return of infected Fire and she combusts Roy in a snap, and it is beautifully drawn in such a horrible way by Trevor Hairsine. Kudos to the colorist Rain Beredo for really making Fire’s flame’s pop, especially when John Constantine lights a cigarette off a burning midsection.
John Constantine also brings a great team with him in Shadowpact, featuring an awesome lineup of Blue Devil, Red Hood, Ragman, Zatanna, Ravager, and their leader, Detective Chimp. I appreciate that each member gets an intro panel with some hype text to show why these people are survivors in DCeased. Both Tom and Trevor handle the DC Universe brilliantly as they can spotlight a character’s heroics both verbally and graphically. Just wait till you see Swamp Thing, who he isn’t messing around; he is responsible for the mission that most of Shadowpact goes on later in the issue.
I enjoyed the return of the heroes from last issue as Wonder Woman, Cassie Sandsmark, comes flying in with a wounded Superman, Jonathan Kent. Dr. Fate and Mary Marvel recognize that his wounds are also magical, so there is that hope again. What is interesting is the way Batman, Damian Wayne, comforts Wonder Woman, which may lead to an interesting ship for some fans. We also look to be seeing a split in the group as Poison Ivy won’t allow GL Black Canary to bring infected Green Arrow to their haven. This can lead to an interesting clash or confrontation later that I hope gets played up.
The last two major beats of this issue are great; the first is shame. Cyborg is brought to this safe location and tells all the survivors that there is a cure, which isn’t what you want to hear after the group has decided that the only way to stop the infected is to destroy them. I love the panel that Trevor draws in which you see the characters hiding behind their hands or masks, which just drives the nail deeper.
The last beat I want to mention is the loss of hope. That side mission that Shadowpact goes on drives the hope down — they head to a bunker in Australia that is eloquently described by Tom as “so many layers of dread, like some kind of horror cake.” The sad part is the heroes do everything right to make their way into the bunker just to be ambushed by a mysterious “undead shapeshifter” which makes me think…have we seen Plastic Man yet?
The drama comes crashing in hard this issue as we are treated to some hope and seeing more characters, but by the time the issue moves along we are ridden with guilt, shame, and sadly we might be losing that hope. Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine are the World’s Finest creative for this DC Universe.